Times on Louis Miller's sudden resignation: You owe us an explanation

Meanwhile, both papers are reporting that the  Aviation Authority will rebid two multimillion-dollar projects awarded to contractors this year because of "procedural irregularities."  According to Steve Huettel's piece in the Times:

The agency's board selected HC Beck Ltd. to expand and upgrade the airport's closed-circuit television surveillance system, an $8.1 million project. Alfonso Architects was picked as consultant to update signs and roadways along the main terminal's check-in and baggage claim areas. The project budget totals $11.6 million.

But apparently staff committees that ranked the bids failed to comply with the state's open meetings law. The panels will gather today to do the work in public.

Mayor Pam Iorio takes a shot at Burton in the Tribune today, saying that as the authority now searches worldwide for a new airport director, "We are not going to get a quality person if the board is going to meddle in day-to-day operations.  We have to recognize that from the get-go."

The mayor sounds like the so called "meddling" has forced a good man to leave his gig.  However, as the Times opines, questions need to be asked and answered about Lou Miller's sudden departure.  Or is that too much meddling?

As the shock wears off from Louis Miller's shocking announcement that he will resign from his job as executive director at Tampa International Airport after 14 mostly sterling years of service, more questions are being raised by some of his previously biggest cheerleaders.

Both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times weigh in with editorials today on Miller.  In a mostly fawning tribute, the paper concedes that, "perhaps, as some critics say, he sometimes overstepped his authority."

After extolling his virtues, the Trib grudgingly acknowledges that board member Steve Burton's aggressiveness on the board in recent months is actually something to be praised, writing:

And Miller obviously took offense when new aviation authority member Steve Burton began pointedly questioning his decisions last year. His resentment was somewhat understandable, given that Burton had no aviation experience and seemed to possess an anti-Miller agenda.

But while Burton may have been unduly antagonistic, there is nothing wrong with a governing board questioning its director's decisions. Troubles are more likely to occur when there is inadequate oversight.

Miller insists the encounters had nothing to do with his resignation, which he says had been under consideration for a long time. We hope this is so.

But the St. Pete Times, whose editorial page had to be battered  into submission by its reporting into taking a harder look at Miller, says the TIA executive director owns the public some answers as to why he's bailing out so suddenly, with two years left on his contract.

Did the recent finding that Miller overstepped his authority on administrative matters play a role? Has the county aviation authority board's increasing micromanagement made it hard for the director to function? Are there other reasons yet to become public? These are essential questions to resolve if the airport is to find a successor who can build on Miller's achievements and seize fresh opportunities.

And later they write in the same editorial:

But if all is fine, doesn't he have an obligation to the community to fulfill his contract? The recession is forcing many challenges on TIA, and the airport needs a steady hand at the helm. If there are larger issues with the director or the board, the public deserves to know them as well. The timing is simply too convenient for the airport director to walk away from months of public infighting.


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